So it’s been nearly an entire year since I’ve written anything here on the ol’ blog. As they say, time flies when you’re having fun. It’s also coming up on my three year anniversary here on WordPress. There are several stories over the course of those years that I’ve shared with you; and several that I haven’t had the time to share. I’m hoping that in the coming weeks I’ll be able to sit down occasionally and share some of those stories and adventures.
My most recent adventure has been moving back to the Midwest. That’s right, I’m no longer in sunny Florida. Sometime in February this year I decided that I was going to move back to the Midwest. For one, it’s a lot closer to my family and a lot of my friends. Being so far away, in Florida, was nice on one hand. But on the other hand, I was so far away that it wasn’t easy for me to get back up here in case of an emergency. I wasn’t too fond of that part.
I was missing out on a lot by being 1,200+ miles away from everyone. I missed out on birthday parties, I missed out on my best friend’s son being born, I missed a couple of weddings, and I missed out on the annual bonfire. Well, now that I’m back up here, there will be no more missing out on any of those! I’m more than ready and excited to be able to partake in all the fun activities again!
Back to the adventure of moving back up here. As some of you know, my beloved truck, Dotty, had been giving me some fits down in Florida. She was overheating and finally blew a head gasket and cracked the heads. She went into the shop and $2,700 later, she was back up and running. The only problem was, she was still getting too hot. The mechanic at the shop said it was likely due to a plugged/leaking radiator. So I spent another $400 to have a new radiator installed.
Luckily, I was afforded the opportunity to work a lot of overtime at work by attending the annual Walmart Year Beginning Meeting in Orlando before I left Florida. I’ll tell you more about that experience later. But working all that overtime was exactly what I needed to get Dotty fixed and have the extra money to fund my trip back to the Midwest.
The shop that was going to fix Dotty came and picked her up on the morning of February 17th. They assured me it would only take a few hours and I would have her back, fully operational, within a few hours. Which was perfect, because as soon as she returned, I planned on loading everything up and hitting the road. Well, that wasn’t exactly the case. The shop ended up having to order a different radiator because the one they told me they could get that morning, wasn’t available anymore. I ended up getting a pretty late start to my drive back up here. The shop delivered Dotty back to me around 6:00pm, which put me about six hours behind schedule right off the bat.
Being that far behind schedule ended up being a good thing. Even though I started driving late into the evening, the events that unfolded afterwords put me right where I needed to be at just the right time. Once Dotty and I got to northern Georgia, she started making a high pitched squealing noise. Given Dotty’s track record for things breaking on her, I became a little concerned. At first, I tried to just dismiss it as wind coming in through the back window or something. But I’d quickly learn that this wasn’t the case. Driving a little further down the interstate, I decided to pull off for some gas and to use the restroom. After filling up, using the restroom, and getting something to drink, I hit the road again. In the parking lot at the gas station I could hear that high pitched squeal again, so I knew that it wasn’t just wind coming in through the back window.
I called my dad and asked him what he thought the sound might be. He said it could be a number of different things, and without being there to see and hear it in person, he couldn’t be sure. There was an auto parts store nearby, so I decided to take her in there to see what they said about it. I pulled up to the auto parts store and Dotty was still making the noise. I went inside and asked one of the employees if they could take a look at it to see if they could offer any insight to what it may be. The employee looked everything over and said that it might be the alternator. So he checked the alternator with his machine and determined that it was doing what it needed to be doing and all the numbers looked good. At that point, I decided that I would just go ahead and drive as far as I could. That was in southern Tennessee.
Driving through Tennessee was a little dangerous. There was snow and ice on the roadways and I had heard that part of the interstate had actually been shut down at one point through the night. Which is another reason it was good for me to get a late start with my travels. Dotty was still making that squealing noise, but I had the cruise control set and I was just taking in the beautiful scenery as I listened to some Eric Church. Just in case Dotty broke down, I was fully stocked with beef jerky, water, and I had a sleeping bag and plenty of clothes to keep me warm. Speaking of clothes, since I didn’t plan on being outside of the truck for longer than it took to run inside a gas station, I was wearing shorts and a hoodie. That would later prove to be a big mistake on my part!
Dotty and I had just crossed the state line into Kentucky when I tried to switch lanes and realized that I had NO power steering. I looked down at the dash and the “check gauges” light came on. My temperature gauge went from “normal” to “HOT” in the blink of an eye, so I immediately pulled over. I could only pull over so far as to barely have my driver’s side tires on the outside of the white line due to the snow that had piled up on the side of the road. I called 911 and let them know where I was and what had happened. The 911 operator told me that she would send a tow truck to me as soon as one was available. I jumped out of the truck and opened the hood to discover my serpentine belt shredded into a thousand little pieces. As I was checking things out, I also noticed that the belt tensioner pulley had locked up and the actual pulley had been ripped off.
Fast forward a little over an hour, and a Sheriff’s Deputy arrived behind me and turned his emergency lights on. Shortly after that the tow truck driver arrived and hooked Dotty up. Luckily there was an auto parts store just up the road. After giving the tow truck driver $65 for the tow, I walked into the auto parts store and spent another $100 on a new tensioner pulley and a belt. The guys there were nice enough to loan me the tools I needed to get the part replaced. The weather, however, wasn’t as nice. It was cold, the wind was blowing, and I was wearing shorts. Standing on the front bumper of Dotty, with snow blowing in my face, I was finally able to get the part replaced just in time before frostbite set in on my hands, legs, and face!
Back on the road, heater running full blast, I figured I’d definitely be able to make it home now. The only problem was, there was still a high pitched squeal coming from under Dotty’s hood! I was hoping that I wouldn’t have to do anymore roadside repairs while wearing my shorts. Dotty and I stopped again for some more gas and I checked under the hood to make sure everything still appeared to be ok. At that point, things were looking good, but they sure didn’t sound good.
I got into my old hometown late on the evening of the 18th due to stopping in Kentucky to make the repairs and also a few traffic accidents slowing traffic considerably; sometimes to a complete stop. When I arrived at my sister and brother-in-law’s house, he already had dinner made and ready to eat. At that point I was starving since I was living on beef jerky and water during the 1,200 mile journey. After dinner it was finally time to get some sleep. I had been on the road for far longer than I planned and I was exhausted.
I woke up the next morning, showered, then headed out. I didn’t plan on staying in town too long, but I knew I wanted to visit my parents. My mom was at work, so I stopped by there to see her. I walked up to the counter and asked if I could speak with her. The girl I was talking to didn’t know who I was, so she just told my mom that there was some man there to see her. I stepped to the side a little bit so my mom couldn’t see me until she was right in front of me. When she came around the corner, I don’t think she immediately recognized me because she said, “Can I help you?” Then it hit her, it was ME! I hadn’t seen my parents since I moved to Florida back in 2013. She came running around the counter, crying, and gave me a big hug. We talked for a few minutes before she had to get back to work. But it was great seeing her again.
After leaving my mom’s work, I decided to swing by my dad’s house to see him. We chatted just like old times and I caught him up to speed on everything that had been happening in my life; and he did the same. I’m definitely glad I’m back within a reasonable distance from home now so I can drop in and see them more! After spending a few hours there, I told him that I needed to get going. I still had some more driving to do.
Dotty and I were back on the road, she was still making strange noises, but I was getting closer and closer to my destination. By the time I got into Illinois, the high pitched squealing noise had turned into more of a growling noise. I knew that couldn’t be good, but I was literally right down the street from where I would be living, so I decided to try to make it there. I finally got to the house and parked Dotty. The weather was cooperating with me, finally, and I was able to get everything out of the bed unpacked. The next day, Brittany’s brother came over to take a look at Dotty. While he was checking her out, he discovered that the idler pulley was far loser than it should be. So I bought a new one for $30 and had it fixed within a few minutes. After replacing the idler pulley, I could still hear a squealing noise. At this point, to say I was a bit frustrated, would be an understatement. I decided that I would go ahead and replace the alternator as well, since that seemed to be one of the final pieces I hadn’t replaced and it was thought that may be the source of the original problem. $140 and about five minutes worth of work later and Dotty had a new alternator. The noises were finally gone. No more high pitched squealing. No more growling.
Not so fast. Is that the end of the repairs? Not quite. Now Dotty is making a clicking noise whenever I turn the steering wheel to the left. Could it be the power steering pump? The rack and pinion? A tie rod end? We’ll find out soon and I’ll let you know. Until then, lets just hope she gets me back and forth to work so I can afford the repairs!
We. Are. Back!